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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 7th September

Posted: Sunday 6th September 2020 by trustadmin

Sea Spurge Euphorbia paralias

Sea Spurge is a common British native plant of sand dunes and coastal areas, particularly in southern Britain and Wales, and can be found on the upper parts of many of Alderney’s north coast beaches.

From June to September it bears a cluster of curiously shaped yellowish-green cup-like flowers in bracts at the end each single stem (the plant has no petals or sepals). These consist of a female flower surrounded by male flowers and four, crescent shaped glands which contain nectar to attract pollinators – ants are particularly attracted. Mostly unbranched, it is taller and slenderer than our other common coastal spurge, Portland Spurge, with which it often grows.

Its grey-green fleshy leaves help it retain water in the arid, salt tolerant, conditions in which it thrives. The seed germinates after heavy rain and the seedling grows rapidly producing a long deep taproot. If it is buried the plant continues growing until it runs out of nutrients stored in the stem or reaches the surface to produce new leaves. Seed that is washed out to sea will float and can apparently survive for several years

As with other spurges, Sea Spurge produces a milky white sap (latex) when the stem is broken: this is toxic and an irritant to skin and eyes. Reportedly, in other parts of the world, these saps have been used to tip poisoned arrows!
 

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